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West Indies recipes: how to create a Caribbean cauldron of flavours

Spicy fruit salsa - west indies recipes

West Indies recipes are a heady mix of lively – and often spicy – tropical flavours. This vibrant and intoxicating style of cooking is a result of its African, Creole and Latin American roots. From starter to dessert, this is how to cook up the perfect Caribbean feast.

The sunny starter: Spicy fruit salsa

This traditional Caribbean salsa is a tantalising way to start your meal. Its mix of sweet fruit, spicy chilli and fresh mint is the perfect way to awaken your taste buds for the main course: jerk chicken. Serve with tortilla or plantain chips.

Ingredients

225g of cubed fresh mango

75g of cubed fresh pineapple

75g of cubed papaya

1 fresh jalapeno or green chilli, seeded and minced

1/2 of a medium red onion, finely chopped

3 tbsp of lime juice

1 tbsp of olive oil

1 tbsp of salt, or to taste

1 tbsp of chopped fresh mint

Spicy fruit salsa - west indies recipes

Method

  1. In a bowl, toss together the mango, pineapple, papaya, chilli and red onion.
  2. Next, pour in the lime juice and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and stir to combine.
  3. Sprinkle with chopped mint leaves before serving.

This dish is popular in Puerto Rico. Visit its capital San Juan on our West Indies Explorer cruise.

 

The subtle side: Callaloo

Part of the amaranth family, callaloo is popular all over the Caribbean. If you can’t find callaloo, substitute or Swiss chard. A subtle dish, callaloo is the ideal counterpart for spicy jerk chicken.

Ingredients

450g of fresh Callaloo

2 tbsp of vegetable oil

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 onion, sliced

3 spring onions, chopped

1 sprig of fresh thyme

Salt and black pepper to taste

75 ml of water

Callaloo - west indies recipes

Method

  1. Cut any tough stems from the leaves and allow to soak for a few minutes in cold water. Drain, then roughly slice.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, then add the garlic, onion and spring onions. Fry until they just begin to soften. Next, add the leaves, thyme and a generous amount of salt and black pepper. Pour over the water and cover. Cook for about 8 – 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the stems are tender. Serve as an accompaniment to jerk chicken.

Recipe from ‘The Kitchen Table – a culinary journey around the world’ produced for Viking by The Chelsea Magazine Company and printed by Mohn Media.

 

The main event: Jerk Chicken

Jerk cooking probably evolved from a way of smoking and preserving meat used by Arawak Indians, who settled in Jamaica from South America over 2,500 years ago. Today, Jerk huts selling the spicy, aromatic dish can be found all over the Caribbean.

Ingredients

2 scotch bonnet or jalapeño chilli peppers, chopped

2 tbsp of thyme

1 tbsp of ground allspice

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 tsp of fresh ginger, grated

2 tbsp of honey

2 tsp of salt

2 tsp of ground black pepper

1 lime, juiced

45 ml of olive oil

4 chicken breasts, cubed, or 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces

jerk chicken - west indies recipes

Method

  1. Place all ingredients apart from the chicken in a blender and process until smooth. Pour the marinade over the chicken and allow to marinate for at least an hour.
  2. Either grill the marinated chicken on a barbecue until cooked through or bake in the oven at 200°C for 25 – 30 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking time. Serve immediately.

Recipe from ‘The Kitchen Table – a culinary journey around the world’ produced for Viking by The Chelsea Magazine Company and printed by Mohn Media.

 

The palette cleanser: Rum punch

This quintessentially Caribbean cocktail instantly conjures up images of white sand beaches, turquoise sea and that laid-back West Indian lifestyle.

Ingredients

25 ml of lime juice

45 ml of sugar cane syrup

65 ml of dark rum

90 ml of water

A sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg

rum punch - west indies recipes

Method

In a wide glass tumbler, combine all the ingredients over ice cubes and stir well. To make a larger batch, use the tumbler to measure each ingredient into a jug (one cup of lime juice, tow cups of sugar cane syrup, etc).

Recipe from ‘The Kitchen Table – a culinary journey around the world’ produced for Viking by The Chelsea Magazine Company and printed by Mohn Media.

 

The cool finale: coconut pudding

Known as Tembleque de Coco in the Caribbean – tembleque means “wiggly” – this light and cooling desert is the perfect way to finish a spicy meal.

Ingredients

60g of cornstarch

115g of sugar

1/4 tsp of salt

1000 ml of coconut milk

Garnish: ground cinnamon, cinnamon sticks or toasted coconut flakes.

coconut pudding - west indies recipes

Method

  1. Mix the cornstarch, sugar and salt in a saucepan.
  2. Now, whisk in the coconut milk and allow to simmer on a medium heat for about 6 minutes. Stir constantly during this time so that it thickens.
  3. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture into individual cups.
  4. Allow to cool and chill in the refrigerator for an hour.
  5. Garnish and serve.

For more recipes from the West Indies, download our FREE West Indies destination guide.

Have you travelled around the West Indies? What were your favourite dishes? Share your memories in the comments section below.

 

 

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